When we caught up with Stan Painter last February, he was hugging his pit bull, Pumpkin, outside the Marian House soup kitchen. Like other homeless people with pets, Painter considered her his "kid." ("Puppy Love," Feb. 11.)
Now we learn that Pumpkin attacked and killed an 11-year-old miniature schnauzer named BJ as the little dog was being walked on a leash.
Painter, in jail when it happened, didn't try to rescue Pumpkin from the needle as of Tuesday morning.
Painter and his girlfriend Leslie Culver shared a camper trailer they moved from place to place to avoid parking tickets, according to John Gair, who shared jail time with Painter — incarcerated on Sept. 29 for failing to appear in court on a traffic violation. That left Pumpkin in Culver's care.
On Dec. 4, BJ was being walked by the daughter of his owner, Frankie Roland, who lives at the Medalion Retirement Community, 1719 E. Bijou St. But the outing was BJ's last. Pumpkin jumped from the trailer and attacked him.
Roland refused an interview, but her daughter, Ruth Roland, says her mom, 80, has been "terribly grief-stricken" by BJ's death, her companion for 11 years. Her sister, Melissa Hamilton, who was walking BJ when he was attacked, now feels guilty, though she did nothing wrong, Roland adds. "This tragedy has totally knocked her legs out from under her," Roland says of her mom. "Our family has had a terrible time dealing with this trauma."
The Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region searched the camper but found nothing, spokeswoman Gretchen Pressley says via email. But authorities found Culver on Dec. 12 and cited her for owning a dangerous dog. She awaits a Jan. 14 court date. They also took Pumpkin into custody, and made Dec. 22 the deadline for Painter and Culver to pay boarding fees, roughly $600, or Pumpkin would be put down. Even if they had paid, the dog would have remained boarded until a judge decided if she was vicious.
Pumpkin couldn't be put up for adoption, because she'd killed another dog, and a chief concern of the Humane Society is public safety, Pressley says.
After a brief reprieve due to the holidays, Pumpkin was due to be euthanized this week, says Humane Society spokesperson Katie McDevitt, one day after Painter got out of jail. He never inquired about Pumpkin, McDevitt says.
Painter told the Indy in February he'd been able to feed and vaccinate Pumpkin through the goodwill of Coats 4 Canines and the Colorado Springs branch of Street Petz. Apparently there is no local organization that temporarily houses pets of the homeless who are jailed or have a sudden medical issue that lands them in the hospital. Not the Humane Society, and not Safe Place for Pets, a nonprofit and Indy Give! partner that provides homes for pets of people who are terminally ill or who have died. "At this time there really is no one in the community who will do temporary fosters, regardless of the reason," spokesperson Kim Hampton says in an email.
After her mom's loss, Roland might be expected to view pets of the homeless harshly, but she doesn't.
"Pets are wonderful things to have as companions," she says. "Generally speaking, you wouldn't want that to be taken away from people at all."